Saturday, July 30, 2011

Morgan's Great Raid . . . part 2, Indiana

I'm sent to warn the neighbors, he's only
a mile behind;
He's sweeping up the horses, every horse
that he can find.
Morgan, Morgan, the raider, and Morgan's
terrible men,
With Bowie knives and pistols are galloping
up the glen.

Excerpt from the poem Kentucky Belle by Constance Fenimore Woolson

Two stragglers at Morvin's Landing (above) . . . where Morgan and his men disembarked on the Indiana shore. The buildings across the river mark Brandenburg, Kentucky. A couple of Indiana home guards were killed in action near here.

As Morgan and his men advanced towards Corydon, one of the raiders was shot and killed. Suspecting that the shot came from the Glenn home, the raiders retaliated by killing Peter Glenn and wounding his son.

This letter written by a 16-year-old girl conveys a local perspective of the Battle of Corydon much better than anything I can muster up:
Dear Cousin
. . . We have had rather exciting times in Indiana, for the last few weeks, and have had a few of the miseries of the south pictured to us though in a small degree. On the doubly memorable ninth of July a visit was paid to the citizens of Corydon and vicinity by Morgan and his herd of horse thieves. We heard Tuesday night that they had crossed the river and had disgraced the soil of Indiana with their most unhallowed feet. Our home guards skirmished with the rebs from the river to [Corydon] and on one of the hills overlooking the town had a grand battle. The battle raged violently for thirty minutes, just think of it! And on account of the large number of the rebs we were forced to retire which our men did in good earnest every one seemed determined to get out of town first but which succeeded remains undecided to this day. After the general skedaddle, Col Jordan wisely put up the white flag- and we were prisoners to a horde of thieves and murderers. I don't want you to think I am making fun of our brave home guards for I am not in the least. But now, that all the danger is over, it is real funny to think how our men did run. . . . It made Morgan so mad to think a few home guards dared to fight his men. I am glad they done it just to spite him. However they captured most of the guards and parolled them and killed three of our men. . . . One of our brave boys run three miles from the rebels, and really run himself to death. He stopped at a house and fainted and never came to. Didn't he deserve a promotion? I think that was the awfullest day I ever passed in my life. . . . The rebs were pretty hard on the copperheads but they did not take a thing from us. . . . I expect you are tired of hearing about Morgan so I will stop. I forgot my letter till so late this morning, and I have not got time to write much more or I will be too late for the stage so Goodbye.

The mooring post and anchor chain from the Alice Dean displayed at the Corydon Battlefield Park.

If young Attia thought local response was lacking in Corydon, it was abysmal in Salem. After a close call with an old swivel gun used only in celebrations (it could have caused a good deal of devastation, as it was loaded with nails, slugs, chain, etc., but the young man in charge of lighting the fuse panicked), the raiders ran amok, burning, extorting the local mill owners, and looting. One raider rode out of town with seven pairs of ice skates draped around his neck!

After Salem, the raiders stopped in Canton and cleaned out this store (now called Fox's Country Store). There are benches in the store made from planks of the "Old Plank Road." Throughout the raid, George "Lightning" Ellsworth provided Morgan with critical information on the Union movements by tapping into the telegraph. Ellsworth stayed busy at several stops in this area . . . sending bogus, misleading messages and gleaning information about the whereabouts of their pursuers.

Dupont is the town that Conner Prairie Interactive History Park represents in its new exhibit about the John Hunt Morgan raid through Indiana. Scattered amongst several exhibit areas are a few fake hams representing the 2,000 hams that Morgan's men stole from the town.

Our favorite Morgan monument (located southeast of Dupont) on the trip . . . "Gen. John Morgan's troops going east ate breakfast here Saturday, July 12, 1863."

Morgan's men arrived in New Alsace as mass was in progress at St. Paul's Catholic Church. I am fairly sure the raiders were pleased to see all of those horses gathered up for them in one place.

Across the street from St. Paul's are two more buildings from the time of Morgan's raid. Morgan slept in the building on the left, which at the time of the raid was the Jacob Gephart Saloon. And the building on the right was Tony Blettner's Tavern. Morgan located his headquarters here. You can reenact the raid at this point by going in and drinking a beer, as it is still a tavern.

Dover is a fine example of the extremes of the actions of the raiders. Just south of town Morgan's men happened upon a funeral procession for a young man who had just died. They forced them to switch the fresh horses pulling the hearse for a couple of "worn old nags." Counter this story with the image of raiders streaming bolts of stolen cloth behind them as they departed from Dover.

West Harrison, Indiana . . . just across State Street (left in the picture) is Harrison, Ohio. As the raiders moved on to Ohio, the men helped themselves to Indiana hospitality one last time. According to Lester Horwitz, one man was "observed to have a bird cage with three canaries, which he carried for three days."

Friday, July 29, 2011

Morgan's Great Raid . . . part 1, Kentucky

The Kingdom of Fife clan just completed an endeavor that I (Merkin) have been pining over lo unto these many years . . . to follow the route John Hunt Morgan and his raiders took on their Great Raid through Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. It was the longest sustained raid during the Civil War. It lasted for 24 days, and they covered over 1000 miles! And at one point, while by-passing Cincinnati, they rode for 35 hours non-stop. It is all good to read about this, but it is only after you have actually followed the route, in a car no less, that one really begins to understand the scope of their undertaking and sheer audacity. Morgan's command dwindled away as the raid continued, but even at the end they were a force to contend with. Morgan eventually surrendered near West Point, Ohio . . . nine miles from the Pennsylvania border and about 80 miles south of Lake Erie. However, he and a few of his men later escaped from the formidable Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio . . . but that is another story.

This map from ca. 1887 shows the approximate route taken by Morgan and his men. Click on the image to enlarge the map. We followed, for the most part, the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail in Kentucky, the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail in Indiana, and we cobbled together a decent route through Ohio (apparently Ohio is in the process of putting together their own Morgan trail, but the only evidence I found of such endeavors was the kiosk at Buffington Island).

John Morgan's foot is on thy shore,
Kentucky! O Kentucky!
His hand is on thy stable door,
Kentucky! O Kentucky!
You'll see your good gray mare no more,
He'll ride her till her back is sore,
And leave her at some stranger's door,
Kentucky! O Kentucky!

Union General Jacob D. Cox

The Second Brigade under the command of Stovepipe Johnson (click his name to see how he got that sobriquet) crossed the Cumberland River here at McMillan's Landing into the Turkey Neck Bend area of Monroe County.

The First Brigade under the command of Basil Duke crossed the Cumberland River here at the Burkesville Ferry and at Neely Ferry. The "Raiders," not to be encumbered in their crossing, stripped themselves and as they came to shore they encountered a few Union soldiers who fled in horror yelling, "They're naked as jay-birds!"

Grave marker in the Columbia Cemetery for Union Col. Frank Lane Wolford . . . the commander of the "Wild Riders." Wolford, along with Hobson and Shackelford, pursued Morgan for basically the whole raid. At the surrender, Morgan presented Wolford with his silver spurs. Wolford repaid Morgan with a chicken dinner.

The Confederate Cemetery and Monument at the Tebbs Bend Battlefield in Taylor County. The monument and cemetery both date back to 1872 (the unclaimed Confederate dead were moved from a mass grave to this location).

The result of the Battle of Tebbs Bend portended bad omens for the raid. When Morgan demanded "immediate and unconditional surrender" of the Union force defending the bridge over the Green River, Col. Orlando Moore of the 25th Michigan responded, "Present my compliments to General Morgan and say to him that the Fourth of July is a d__d bad day for a surrender, and I would rather not."

Morgan should have listened. Basil Duke stated that Tebbs Bend was "one of the strongest natural positions I ever saw." Eight confederate assaults were repulsed at a loss of 27 killed (20 of those were officers), 14 wounded, and 32 captured.

The following day, Morgan and his men took out their frustrations from the Tebbs Bend debacle on Lebanon. They burned over 20 buildings and partook of the requisite looting. However, the setbacks continued as John Hunt Morgan's brother Tom Morgan was killed (marker above), and they were much delayed.

The delay was caused by the spirited defense by Lt. Col. Charles Hanson at the L&N Depot (location pictured above). Morgan and Hanson were pre-war friends. A distraught Morgan told Hanson, "When you get home, if it is any gratification to you, tell Mother you killed brother Tom."

This former grocery store and saloon, was the Union Commissary Building at the time of the raid. It survived, but not the Union supplies.

After Lebanon, Morgan and his men continued on to Bardstown where they were again held up by a small group of Union troops. A Confederate subordinate threatened them by stating, "If you refuse [to surrender], we will blow you to hell with our artillery." The reply of the Union officer in charge was: "I am obliged to the General's kind intentions, but it is our duty to trouble him a little longer." When the main body of Morgan's troops arrived with artillery, he did surrender, to which Morgan admonished them by exclaiming, "You twenty-five damned Yankees have cost me twenty-four hours!"

Brandenburg is where Morgan and his men really stepped off into hostile territory. Once they crossed the Ohio River, they were on their own. And to make a point to his men that they were really in it for the long haul, Morgan had the two commandeered steamboats burned. The practically new Alice Dean went down, but Basil Duke was a pre-war friend of the captain of the John T. McCombs and allowed it to continue on to Louisville where it would be no help to Wolford and the other pursuers.

Morgan wanted to take the war to the North. He wanted to make them suffer like much of the South. And he did all of this against the orders of his superiors. Gen. Bragg in response to Morgan's plan exclaimed, "I like everything you said, except crossing the Ohio River into the north. Go ahead and raid Kentucky. Capture Louisville if you can. But do not, I repeat, do not cross the river. Stay in Kentucky. Go anywhere you want in your home state, but I command you to stay south of the river."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Deep South . . . Deep Roots, Part 2

After leaving Andersonville, we headed to Columbus, Ga. to the Civil War Naval Museum. This exceptional museum pertains to the two navies during the Civil War, and many of the exhibits were recovered from the Chattahoochee River.

Dudeboy next to a model of the Monitor that was used in the 1995 TNT film. In the background are the remains of the CSS Jackson.

Here is part of the largest collection of Civil War naval-related (ships and coastal forts) flags. The US flag above Dudeboy and Dr. J was Admiral Porter's and the Confederate flag above that flew over Fort Henry.

Dudeboy posed with a plate from the Monitor.

From Columbus, Ga. we skedaddled to Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park south-west of Birmingham. We stayed in this cabin which dates to 1890.

At the end of the war, the ironworks were destroyed by a Union detachment during Wilson's Raid. Still, the ruins are some of the best preserved iron furnaces in the south.

Our final stop was a visit to the Ave Maria Grotto, near Cullman. Dudeboy just missed by a day his opportunity to participate at their "Monk Camp." However, viewing the 125 inspired miniatures created (as a "hobby") by Brother Joseph Zoettl was well worth our stop.

Spread amongst Jerusalem and other significant religious sites are the Alamo, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Statue of Liberty, and Hansel and Gretel at the Temple of the Fairies.

From the brochure . . . "When not busy shoveling coal into the furnaces, he took time to construct some miniature buildings."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Deep South . . . Deep Roots, Part 1

We have just returned from a trip to Papa's ancestral home of Skipperville, Alabama. In addition to family matters and family history, we also made a few other stops.

On the way down we stopped at the Alabama Confederate Memorial Park. This is the site of the Alabama Old Soldiers Home for Confederate Veterans. Today they have a really nice historical museum pertaining to Alabama in the Civil War. This was a fitting stop for us, as we have just recently discovered that one of Dr. J and Dudeboy's ancestors fought with the 3rd Alabama Infantry.

And here is William E. Blocker (3rd Alabama Infantry, Co. K.). The 3rd Alabama saw major action during the war. They sustained the heaviest casualties of any Confederate unit at Malvern Hill (207 of 345 men and officers). They were at the center of the line in the Sunken Road at Antietam. The 3rd fought at Gettysburg, and the last 40 members remaining surrendered at Appomattox Court House. William's record reflects these intense actions, as he was "wounded slight" at Chancellorsville. Wounded slight in William's case meant he had a MiniƩ ball hit his left shoulder and he had to have "two pieces of bone taken out." He also appears on a prisoners of war roll in 1864 after he was captured at Fishers Hill.

Here is the resting place for Malcolm Mathison, the patriarch of the Mathison family (he is Dudeboy's great-great-great grandfather). Unfortunately, the grave (and others there) has been desecrated. The stone has been broken in two places. Apparently, this was fairly recent.

On the stairs of the Traveler's Rest Bed & Breakfast in Montezuma, Georgia. Dudeboy was quite taken with our Civil War themed room.

Andersonville Prison . . . Dudeboy is standing within the 26 acres that contained at one time around 32,000 prisoners. While it only existed for only 14 months, almost 13,000 prisoners died out of the total of over 45,000 Union soldiers confined there.

Recreation of the North Gate with Providence Spring in the background.

The prisoners had to provide their own shelters. In the background (just visible in front of the stockade wall) was "the dead line." Anyone crossing into this no-man's land was shot.

The Andersonville National Cemetery. The stones are so close together because the prisoners were buried shoulder to shoulder in trenches.

The Andersonville Tuttle Dove mystery.

U.D.C. revisionist monument to Captain Henry Wirz, who was executed for his role as commandant at the prison. While Wirz was partly complicit and part scapegoat, he and Kentuckian Champ Ferguson were the only two Confederates executed for war crimes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kingdom of Fife Geography Challenge Results

Eighteen intrepid souls initially attempted the Kingdom of Fife Geography Challenge, but only ten were able to see it to the end. Of those ten, seven were perfect on all of the retakes. Certificates (suitable for framing) were awarded for participation, 100% Club, and individual awards and certificates were bestowed for Best Pre-Test Adult, Best Pre-Test Kid-Like Person, Most Improved Adult, and Most Improved Kid-Like Person. Sorry, those who bailed out Get Nothing!, but my scorn and contempt.
The exclusive members of the 100% Club are: Asmita, Dudeboy, Jane, Lora, Merkin, Phyllis, and William S. The following photos show the winners of the individual awards.

Best Pre-Test Adult . . . William S. (here aided by Thing 1 and Thing 2). Along with his certificates suitable for framing, young William received a copy of the Tarak de Haidouks cd Maskarada for having the best Pre-Test Adult score of 91%.

Best Pre-Test Kid-Like Person . . . Dudeboy. Here is the young lad surrounded by his Kingdom of Fife Geography Challenge spoils, including a copy of the book Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities by Frank Jacobs. This was awarded for having the Best Pre-Test Kid-Like Person score of 77%.

Most Improved Adult . . . Aunt Phyllis. She made us all proud by her effort and enthusiasm. Her prize is the Hedningarna cd collection 1989-2003. Plus, she can forever talk smack to Avalon and Clynton when it comes to geography.

Most Improved Kid-Like Person . . . The Richard. His retake scores were seventy percentage points higher than his pre-test scores. Pictured with The Richard is the exceptional Asmita who belongs to the elite 100% Club. For their efforts, they will share a copy of the Putumayo compilation - World Playground . . . A Musical Adventure for Kids.